The news that NBC is planning a remake/reboot of “Murder, She Wrote” starring Oscar winner Octavia Spencer unleashed waves of snark online Thursday (Oct. 24). It’s the latest example of TV networks and studios turning to old properties in the hopes that a new audience will take to them.
Leaving aside the question of whether such reboots actually work — recent history shows a lot more misses than hits — the “Murder, She Wrote” news got us thinking: If we were profit-hungry TV executives, what other shows might be ripe for a 21st-century update? Some ideas, and the networks that would call them home:
“Diagnosis Murder” (ABC): As with the CBS original, a renowned physician moonlights as a police consultant and often ends up working with his detective son. Dick Van Dyke and his real-life son Barry starred the first time around; the reboot would reunite on-screen father and son Bill Cosby and Malcolm-Jamal Warner.
“Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” (FOX): A “gritty, edgy” update of the original series. Logline: “Grey’s Anatomy” meets “Deadwood.”
“Early Edition” (CBS): Guy learns the news the day before it happens, sets out to prevent bad things from happening. The original starred Kyle Chandler and featured him getting a copy of the newspaper a day early. The reboot features Chandler’s “Friday Night Lights” co-star Zach Gilford, and since no one would believe a 30ish guy gets a daily newspaper delivered, he would receive prescient Google alerts or tweets.
“Hardcastle & McCormick” (TNT): He’s a hard-nosed retired judge with a nose for justice. He’s a streetwise car thief looking to beat a prison rap. Get ready for a “Wings” reunion as Tim Daly and Steven Weber are … “Hardcastle & McCormick.” (Note: TNT has right of first refusal on all series with ampersands in the title.)
“Jake and the Fatman” (The CW): The same premise as the original, which featured a prosecutor and an investigator who team up on cases. It has a CW twist, though: “Jake” is a beautiful young woman with a tough-as-nails exterior, while the “Fatman” is in actuality a model-handsome twentysomething with washboard abs. Sparks fly! The bulldog totally stays, though.
“Touched by an Angel” (The CW): “Supernatural’s” Castiel (Misha Collins) wanders the countryside, “Kung Fu”-style, in this much, much darker reboot.
“Father Dowling Mysteries” (NBC): When a priest (Eric Dane), defrocked for speaking out against church abuses, and a streetwise nun (Jennifer Esposito) team up, it’s murder … for the bad guys. Bonus: A teasing but ultimately frustrating plot arc about the conspiracy that got Dowling booted from the church.
“Riptide” (USA): Army buddies Cody (Matt Davis) and Nick (Justin Bruening) open a detective agency on Cody’s boat and solve crimes using their wits, their helicopter and the skills of a socially awkward but brilliant — and beautiful — computer hacker (Autumn Reeser).